Thermal Desorption Units (TDU's) are gradually supplementing cutting re-injection in Niger Delta waste management operations. Its acceptance is based on report from operators in other oil zones and not on any comprehensive study on this inconclusive waste management methodology.

This technology separates contaminants from soil. Contaminated soil is heated in a chamber where water, organic contaminants and certain metals are vaporized. Most of our wastes treated so far are pseudo-oil-based mud cuttings using the High Temperature Thermal Desorption (HTTD) units at 400 to 800 °C (752 to 1472 °F) off well site.

This paper would look at the questions environmental managers' believe are not answered by this method. It would also compare cost cut at future date and draw an analysis based on its benefits, limitations and concern over alternatives as a new form of technology as it is applicable to our geomarket.


Waste management over the decades in Niger Delta petroleum industry operations has seen a remarkable improvement with emphasizes on the operators not to degrade the environment in their course of operations.

To effectively carry out these regulatory activities, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources established the Directorate of Petroleum Resources (DPR), which has been developing environmental guidelines and standards since 1981. Their major activity covers the control of the pollutants from the various petroleum exploration, production and processing operations. Their continuous update on guidelines and standards in light of advancement drives us to the use of thermal desorption technology in the current treatment and pollutant control technology. In waste management, many phases have been encountered and various methods have been applied basically to operate under minimum requirement from a dynamic legislation.

The pragmatic progression in standards has seen total discharge on environment to zero discharge on the environment backed with legislation. While the methodology in waste management operations has graduated from total dumping to Pit filling, annular re-injection while drilling, cutting re-injection to most recently thermal desorption.

Of these operations, cutting slurrifying and re-injection has received the most widespread acceptance and application, it is taken to be the most cost effective solution until continuing tightening of allowable discharge prompted the need for advanced technology.

New technology and technique application was indicated as a tool for quality improvement, cost cut and time saving. It was of note that, accepting a new form of technology required detailed planning and preparation to achieve full technical benefit and still operate within budget. In drilling waste management, efficient checks and balances was proposed in view that new methodology does not undermine standards already achieved.

The Niger Delta as an oil block is generally on an upswing, there are various factors that have to be taken into account when considering a waste management framework that might not be applicable to other oil market. However, the Best Practical Environmental Option (BPEO) are mostly based on

  1. Legislation

  2. Safety and Environment

  3. Capital and Operational Expenditures

  4. Political/Social factors

  5. Technical Feasibility

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